Edua alighted from the motor-bike and paid the driver. She turned and scanned the rows of houses on the left and right side of the street, searching for number twenty-five. She found the brown painted bungalow in-between a story building and a supermarket. She sighed with relief and walked towards the house. A young girl of about eight and two young men in their early twenties were seated on a long wooden beach in front of the house. The boys grinned sheepishly, ogling at her without shame as she strode into the building. She ignored them, already used to leering stares from both old and young men, although she didn’t attract as much attraction as she did doing her randy days; being looked at could be quite unnerving at times, especially when one was decently clothed. She went in and counted the doors on the right side of the corridor, till she got to the sixth door. She straightened her short-sleeve, red cotton blouse, smoothened her newly retouched hair with her palms, held in place with a pink hair-pin, checked out her frame, and nodded; contented with the way the blouse complimented the A-shaped, knee-length, pleated green flowery skirt, then knocked at the door.
“Who is it?” the male voice boomed from within the apartment.
She recognized his voice and smiled, then knocked again.
“If it is you Kaosara, I don’t have salt, I don’t have maggi, no curry or thyme either,” he yelled.
She placed a hand over her mouth and stifled the laughter bubbling from within her. Who was Kaosara? Whoever Kaosara was, she must be giving him a hard time. She breathed out loudly, then knocked again.
“Kaosara, I am warning you. I cannot be working while someone else is…”
The door swung open. Edet froze and gapped at the sight of his fiancée. He spoke with her early that morning and she made no mention that she was going to visit. She had never being to his place before, although he had given her directions a number of times. They both planned to spend time together that evening to celebrate. He was shocked to see her standing right outside his door.
“Who is Kaosara?” she placed both hands on her hips and eyed him.
“My… my nosy neighbor,” he scratched his itchy jawline. “She borrows everything and returns nothing.”
Edua began to laugh.
“What are you doing here? I thought we planned to dine tonight. How did you find this place?” he asked quickly, glad to see her.
“Google map helped,” she winked at him.
“Google map?” he raised an eyebrow.
“It works, oh ye of little faith.”
He chuckled then stepped back into the apartment. She picked up the thick shopping bag on the floor and walked in.
“I was about heading to my mechanic shop.”
Edua nodded, taking a good look at her surroundings. The sitting room was smaller than hers, decorated with black and green leather chairs, and a glass round center table with a 40inch flat screen television facing the three-settee.
“I will come with you after we have eaten. I want to see your mechanic shop.”
His dark brown eyes widened in excitement. He had always wanted to show her his shop, his place of work. “Did you bring food?” he collected the pink shopping bag from her.
“I made something small after we spoke this morning. The birthday boy must not starve on his D-day,” she glanced at him.
He found a big bowl of Jollof rice, fried fish and plantain in the bag. “Thanks love,” he winked at her, “I am so hungry. I was planning to send one of my boys to buy me bread and egg from the Mallam when I get to the shop.”
“No need for that anymore,” she smiled in relief. She was glad that she decided to cook him a meal. “Where is your kitchen?”
He pointed at a white painted door, placed the bowl on the center table and drew it close to the three-settee.
Edua walked into the kitchen and stopped to look around before bringing out a pack of fruit juice from the refrigerator. She searched for glasses and found them in the cupboard.
She rinsed it at the sink and headed back to the sitting room. Her fiancé was already eating. Was he that hungry?
“This is delicious,” he glanced up at her and swallowed the food in his mouth.
She blushed, “Thanks,” she sat beside him, filled the glasses with the fruit juice and picked up the other spoon.
“Your Pastor called me after I spoke with you this morning.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Pastor Victory?”
He nodded and spooned some food into his mouth.
She blinked in surprise. “What did he say?”
She could still remember the day she introduced her fiancé to Pastor Victory and his wife. They were so happy for her and excited that Edet knew about her past and was ready to tie the knot with her.
“He wished me a happy birthday. He also prayed for me.”
Edua smiled. Her fiancé had just clocked thirty that day. He was exactly five years older than her.
“Do you still have foodstuff?” he looked her in the eye.
She nodded. “I have enough to last me for two more weeks.” The constant foodstuff he brings to her place had helped in ways she couldn’t fathom. If not for him, she would have been wallowing in starvation, more so with the fact that she wasn’t gainfully employed.
“Good…” he continued to eat. “Let me know when you have exhausted it.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“I am just taking care of my sweetest pie,” he winked at her.
“I spoke with my mum yesterday. She said she will be able to see us this weekend.”
He looked at her. “What did you tell her?” He was curious. He had heard a lot about the woman.
She shrugged. “Nothing much. Just that I am coming to visit her with someone special.”
Edet chuckled. “My parents and siblings are also expecting us this weekend.”
“Okay. I think we should see your people first; my mum can be…” she started to shake her head.
He reached out for her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Everything is going to be all right.”
She nodded in agreement. “I believe so.”
“Good girl,” he winked at her.
She dropped her gaze and concentrated on the food. About twenty minutes later, Edet and Edua strode out of the one-bedroom apartment.
“Oga Edet! Oga Edet!”
They both turned in the direction of the voice. Edua saw a lady, a little above average height, dark skinned, round, curvy and chubby, half-walking and half-running towards them. She was in a very tight white short, which was above her knees, show-casing her flabby fleshy dark thighs outlined with stretched marks. The sagging long sleeve blouse she was putting on was worse off. It exposed a mass of loose flesh, strangled and heaped together by a push-up bra. Her face was heavily made up, painted in all the colours of the rainbow and her gold and purple weave-on was wrapped around her shapeless head in a half-patterned style.
Edua glanced at her fiancé. “Who is that?”
He looked right back at her and tried not to laugh. “That’s my nosy neighbor, Kaosara.”
“My God…” she glanced back at the lady.
“Oga Edet, are you going to your shop now? I need palm-oil and vegetable oil, with crayfish and dry pepper,” she stood panting by his side.
“Kaosara,” he stared at her sternly.
“Oga Edet…” she opened her set of brown teeth, grinning and fluttering her fake long eye lashes at him.
“Just last week, I gave you a packet of maggi, half bottle of palm-oil and vegetable oil, what happened to it?”
The lady scratched a spot on her scalp. “Em… Oga Edet, you see, my younger sister is very wasteful. I have warned her…”
He began to shake his head in disapproval. “Kaosara, you make money from your hair salon. I believe that you are wise enough to set money aside for foodstuff as well as your rent and other bills.”
“Ehn… yes, Oga Edet…” she scratched her elbow.
“You cannot keep coming to me every time you need to cook in your home. This is over-familiarity and you are taking me for granted.”
“Ah! It is not like that…” she paled at his stern expression.
“I… I don’t like it. This has to stop. Even if you need to borrow one or two things, I can still oblige you, but, you cannot ask all the time. My kitchen is not a supermarket.”
“I know. Sorry now Oga Edet,” she feigned a smile in an attempt to make light of the situation.
“It’s okay. I am on my way out now. Meet my fiancée,” Edet drew Edua closer and grinned from ear to ear.
The dark skinned plump lady glanced at Edua, looked her up and down and frowned.
“Hi…” Edua stared back at the lady.
Kaosara hissed and turned back to her neighbor. “I will see you when you come back.”
Edet eyed her. “So, you won’t respond to her greeting.”
“Hello…” she said through gritted teeth, glanced at his fiancée briefly and hissed again.
“Fine then, see you later,” he held his fiancée by the hand and led her out of the building.
They stood by the roadside, waiting for a bike.
“I can swear on my father’s grave that, that your neighbour is infatuated with you.”
He glanced at her quickly. “How did you know?”
She smiled, “I am a woman. Our intuition is very sharp.”
He rolled his eyes.
Edua started to laugh. “I think she borrows things from you just to get your attention. She wants you to notice her and hopeful find her desirable.”
“Heaven forbid,” he frowned. She laughed harder “Kaosara is far from the kind of woman I roll with.”
“Oh yeah, na wa o.”
“Joke apart, she has been hanging around me since I moved into the building. The more I try to push her away, the clingier she becomes.”
She shook her head in pity. “You need to be careful with the likes of her.”
“You don’t need to tell me. I have heard stories. Men drugged by women, and the next thing, they are branded as fathers to children they had no idea how they came to planet earth.”
She chuckled. She had heard similar stories.
“Some desperate ones trail the fetish path, hypnotizing their crushes with one spell or the other. It’s a crazy world we live in.”
She nodded in agreement. “I heard of one crazy concoction. Jo ko nbe.”
He raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”
“Sit down there!”
“As in?” he stared back at her confused.
“That’s the name of the juju, Jo ko nbe, ‘Sit down there!’”
“That’s weird. So you mean the guy will sit down wherever the lady wants him to?”
“Technically. The way it works, he does her bidding. He is at her every beck and call. He is like a slave.”
Edet shook his head in disgust.
“I heard it is prepared with catfish.”
“Hey!” he clapped his hands. He was a lover of everything made with catfish.
“The juju is prepared with cat fish pepper soup.”
“Trouble! Irresistible concoction!” he wailed.
She laughed at his comical facial expression.
“That means I must be careful. I must not eat anyhow, anywhere.” She nodded in agreement.
“Jo ko nbe…” he repeated and shook his head again.
Edua waved at the next bike she saw. Her fiancé bargained with the driver till they agreed on a price. While he gave directions to his mechanic shop, they mounted the motorcycle.
To be continued